An 8-month-old baby who traveled internationally was diagnosed with measles, becoming the first case confirmed this year in San Bernardino County, local health officials said Tuesday.
The United States is experiencing its worst measles outbreak in decades, with 1,095 people infected nationwide as of the end of June, according to federal health officials. There were just 372 cases in all of 2018.
The infant in San Bernardino County who came down with measles had not been vaccinated against the disease, according to health officials.
Typically babies can’t get the measles vaccine until they are 1, though officials are recommending that babies traveling internationally or who are spending time in areas with outbreaks get one dose of the vaccine between 6 months and 11 months for earlier protection.
Babies have some immunity from their mother that begins to wane around 6 months, which is why 6 months is the earliest point the vaccine should be given, experts say.
Parents who do opt for the early dose of the vaccine, however, will need to have their baby get another shot around 12 months, when it would have otherwise been administered, experts say.
“Maintaining high vaccination rates is vital to prevent outbreaks of disease in our community,” San Bernardino health officer Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare said in a statement. “Measles is still common in many parts of the world including Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Checking vaccination before departure is key in preventing infection and is the best defense against acquiring measles locally and internationally.”
Measles outbreaks in the U.S. are typically linked to international travel.
In California, 55 people have come down with measles this year. Many of them had recently traveled to other countries such as India, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Ukraine, according to state health officials.